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NASA set to launch latest satellite to study sun

NASA is preparing to launch its latest sun-monitoring satellite on a mission to improve space weather prediction.


The Iris satellite will observe a little-studied region of the sun that emits ultraviolet light. NASA says it will provide the most detailed look at the sun's lower atmosphere.

Scientists hope examining the sun's lower atmosphere would help them learn more about how this region drives solar wind and powers the corona, the sun's outer atmosphere seen during eclipses.

"Iris data will fill a crucial gap in our understanding of the solar interface region upon joining our fleet of heliophysics spacecraft," Jeffrey Newmark, NASA's Iris program scientist in Washington, said in a statement.

"For the first time we will have the necessary observations for understanding how energy is delivered to the million-degree outer solar corona and how the base of the solar wind is driven."

Iris carries a UV telescope that can take high-resolution images every few seconds. It's scheduled to be launched on June 26 from the Vandenberg Air Force Base on California's central coast. Once in orbit, it will circle about 400 miles above the Earth.